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Marketing Insights for Entrepreneurs

The (Unglamorous but Totally Necessary) Nuts and Bolts of a Brand New Business

Dreams. Money. Fame.

Entrepreneurship is a path to feelings of freedom!

…sort of.

Although people are quick to share advice about growing a brand new business, they’re less likely to talk about the nuts and bolts.

Getting a tax i.d. number isn’t as glamorous as becoming profitable, but it’s even more important.

Stop acting like you don’t need to balance your books, and read on to understand the nuts and bolts of building a brand new business.

In order to pull off that awesome viral video or crazy PR stunt, you’ll need these locked down:

1.   Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan isn’t just for undergraduates exploring a business degree—putting all your thoughts and plans on paper is essential to growth. Usually, these plans project a 3-5 year plan (it’s ok if it changes) to help you make decisions along the way while keeping your goals in mind.

Plus, writing a business plan helps you figure out if your idea is actually viable.

“I’ve written two business plans that uncovered insurmountable obstacles and made me realize my idea was completely impractical,” says Annabel Acton on Forbes. “It was a valuable pressure test that saved me time, energy, and money in the long run.”

Tips for writing a business plan:

 2.   Figure Out Where

When you talk to a potential date online, you think they’re your dreamboat, but when you meet them in person, conversation is awkward. Sound familiar?

It sounds crazy, but starting a business is the same way. You have an idea about how and where you’ll work, but will the reality be what you’re imagining?

One of the first things you need to do when setting up a business is figuring out where. And yes, this should be a carefully thought-out decision, not just a “I’ll work from my house because it’s super cheap” choice.

A few options:

3.   Decide on Financing and Legal Structure

You just want to sell tea pots, so do you really have to worry about financing and legal structure?

Yes.

You need money to survive, so financing should be built into your business plan: will you get a small business loan? Hit up a startup accelerator or VC? Beg mom for cash? Sell your house?

You’ll also have to create a detailed budget. How much will you spend each month on the odds and ends?

And it’s not just the money—it’s also the legal structure.

When you first start, it might make sense to register as a sole proprietor or partnership, but soon you may want to get incorporated (Inc.), become an S Corporation (pass info on to your stakeholders), or a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).

All this stuff is nuts and bolts, but it’s important that you take care of it at the get-go. It’s easy to do at the beginning, but way harder to do later.

Some tips for finance and legal:

4.   Get Tax-Friendly

Taxes, shmaxes, amirite!?

Um, sorry, how ridiculous does that statement sound? You must get recognized by the federal and state governments in order for business to grow and flourish.

Certain states provide better deals for small businesses (New Hampshire is particularly good, while Maine is particularly bad). Deductions are available for “green” businesses, veteran and minority-owned businesses, among other things.

Here’s How:

5.   Know Your Rights

Did you know that small businesses led by a minority or a veteran get tax deductions? Did you know that you can get healthcare without paying a hefty chunk of your paycheck?

Believe it or not, Obamacare has allowed many people to start their own businesses. Ritika Puri, owner of Elate, a boutique content marketing agency, believes the program allowed her to make her side project her only project.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not let media pessimism or logistical headaches stand in my way,” says Ritika.

Regardless of your personal politics and whether you agree with what the government does, make sure you know your rights. Understanding what is available to you as a small business owner will always help.

How to get info:

6. Read Resources & Take Courses

You’re not going to know how to build a business instantly, so read resources and take courses to get ahead.

Look at the local community college or check out Coursera and General Assembly. Consider taking courses outside your regular wheelhouse. For example, if you write code, check out a course on public speaking. If you’re a community leader, take a course on business law.

And alongside coursework, read books! One of our favorites is Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. It’s full of insights that will help you better understand your customers.

Get started:

Get Going

Now that you know the nuts and bolts, it’s time for the fun stuff– selling! Lay down a foundation so that you can market what you’ve got without running into bumps along the way.

Your Turn: What nuts and bolts do you wish you’d taken care of when you started your business? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?